(MS) — Generous friends or family members frequently opt to give away an older-model car to someone who may not have the means to purchase a car of their own. Vehicles are a necessity for those who live in areas where public transportation is unavailable or inconvenient, and gifting a car can have a significant impact on the life of someone who will be on the receiving end of the present.
While gifting a car may seem like a straightforward transaction, some steps need to be taken to ensure the process is conducted in adherence to the law. Various states and provinces may have their own specific rules, so it is best to contact your local department of motor vehicles office.
The following are some general guidelines. Transfering a vehicle to another person, whether it is a gift or a sale, involves transfer of the title as well. A vehicle title is a legal document naming a person or persons as the owner of the vehicle. The title contains the current owner's name and residential address. It also includes the vehicle's identification number, or VIN, the date the car was sold and the mileage on the vehicle at the time of sale.
Depending on where you live, transferring the title may be as simple as writing "gift" on the title. Otherwise, you may need to fill out forms to transfer the title to another person. Some people draw up a bill of sale with a nominal dollar amount to include with the title to show documentation of the transfer of ownership.
Additionally, the recipient of the gifted car will fill out paperwork, which includes tax information. Again, depending on where you live, there will be rules about tax exemptions or taxes that must be paid on the vehicle. This is another time when contacting the motor vehicle department is adviseable. Keep in mind that whoever is doing the gifting may not be able to use the car as a tax write-off.
The United States Internal Revenue Service notes that you cannot deduct the value of gifts you make other than those given to registered charitable organizations. It is common courtesy to ensure the vehicle is in good working order prior to giving it as a gift. This way the recipient isn't faced with a bevy of costly repairs. Take the car or truck in for a tune-up. Be sure it has a fresh oil change and that it has been washed and vacuumed. This way the recipient gets the maximum benefit from this generous gift.